Black-cheeked gnateater

Black-cheeked gnateater
Conopophaga melanops
Photo by Luis Florit (Luis Adrián Florit’s Home Page)

Common name:
black-cheeked gnateater (en); cuspidor-de-máscara-preta (pt); conopophage à joues noire (fr); jejenero carinegro (es); rotscheitel-mückenfresser (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Conopophagidae

This South American species is endemic to the Atlantic forest habitats along the coast of Brazil, from Paraíba to Santa Catarina.

These birds are 11-12 cm long and weigh 20 g.

The black-cheeked gnateater is mostly found in the understory of tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, but may also be present in rivers and streams, dry forests and even in urban areas.

These birds eat various types of insects, including grasshoppers, walking sticks and caterpillars, collected from the leaf litter of the forest ground.


Black-cheeked gnateaters are monogamous and territorial, breeding in October-January. They build an open nest cup made of plant debris and dry leaves, lined with pant down. The nest is placed in the understory, near the ground. There the female lays 2 salmon coloured eggs with dark spots, which are incubated by both parents for 12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
These birds have a relativelly large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as uncommon. This population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

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